When I was in elementary school, I occasionally heard bits of news concerning global warming. It was always presented as undisputed fact that the Earth was getting warmer, that it was caused by fossil fuel use by humans, and that it would eventually wreck the ecosystem we enjoy and depend on. There was no mention of controversy.
As I got older, understood more, and paid more attention to the news, I realized that some scientists (a minority) question the theory and have very different interpretations of the data. Their interpretations sounded reasonable, but I always had the impression that there was a vast movement to silence them. I also always had the impression that those who believed in global warming relied far too heavily on anecdotal evidence – looking only at certain regions of the planet at only certain times of the year.
One day, in high school in the late nineties, I read an article purporting to show the best evidence yet for global warming. It was claimed that the debate was now over and it was time to move on to decide what to do about it. A graph showing temperatures over the past several decades supposedly showed a warming trend. I looked at this same graph and saw only randomness. To be sure, the most recent temperatures were higher than the older ones, but the increase was only a couple of degrees, whereas the difference between adjacent temperatures was sometimes more than five. It hardly seemed conclusive.
Finally, in the very late nineties, I was exposed to those that claimed global warming was an outright hoax. They tied the global warming alarmists with socialists (a group I already knew I didn’t like), claiming that power-hungry, big-government types were only using it as an excuse to regulate business. They claimed that these same people and institutions were warning us of global cooling in the seventies (never came to pass). They claimed that twenty-five percent of all carbon dioxide comes from not humans, but termites. They claimed that a single major volcanic eruption contains as much greenhouse gas as humans have emitted in recorded history. They claimed that the thermometers used to measure the increasing temperature were improperly placed, that they were too close to the cities, and that satellites did not show the same increase. They claimed that ice cores show all sorts of sudden and large temperature changes in the past, long before the industrial revolution, implying that any current change might be natural. They also claim that ice cores may have more than one layer a year and trees may make more than one ring a year, calling into question a lot of data. While it is clear that some Greenland glaciers are melting ever faster, these people claim that the ice is in fact getting thicker in other parts of Greenland. Perhaps most troublesome for those who push global warming theory, these “deniers” carefully document exaggerations and outright lies on the part of those who believe it.
Not all my sources were reputable, and some of the rumors I have heard may turn out to be false, but it doesn’t matter. It was the believers who finally did themselves in. I read an article circa 2003 explaining how the Earth’s climate systems are linked through complex feedback loops, both positive and negative. The article’s main theme was how global warming could actually trigger an ice age. It was at this point that I knew they had no way of predicting the future any better than I did. Nobody knew whether the Earth would continue to get warmer or not or whether this would necessarily be a bad thing.
As the years progressed, I noticed several odd occurrences. First, the number of articles covering environmental issues in the science magazines skyrocketed. They were all pro-warming. Second, the temperatures started to fall again (it still looks random). Third, while Democrats had long claimed that human-caused global warming was proven, many leading Republicans now claimed that they had been convinced that global warming was occurring but still had questions of what was causing it. Fourth, I noticed a widespread new rhetoric, claiming that the debate was now over (as if it wasn’t in the nineties) and it was time to move forward. Those who still had questions were ridiculed or ignored.
By this point, I was convinced there was nothing to be concerned about and I was no longer in the mood to listen. If those pushing global warming hadn’t been able to prove it yet, there was probably nothing to it. It really did look like a hoax. Finally, someone hacked into the email accounts of those involved with measuring data and setting up computer models. It was shown that a conspiracy existed to silence doubters, to redefine the peer-review standards to exclude certain opinions, and that data had been dumped. I’m now totally convinced it’s a hoax.
To be fair, the dumped data still resides at its original locations (so I’ve heard), but it would be hard to collect again, and the story of why it was dumped (to save space) just smells fishy to me.
I hope this post helps to explain why it is that some people still remain skeptical of the theory, and where we are coming from when we say some of the things we do. It’s not that we’re close-minded or have a grudge against Al Gore, we’ve just had different experiences. Thank you for reading.